This article on Chicago Tribune’s website (registration required) describes the ever-expanding pageantry of Christmas productions at the Savannah Christian (mega) Churches where attendees (at $5 a head) get to
take a boat ride across a massive lake into Bethlehem, where they mingle with the townspeople who greet them with fresh water, fruit and assorted cheeses. Roman soldiers on white horses lead them along a lighted path, where they encounter the Three Wise Men with a live camel resting at their side. They look on as the archangel Gabriel appears at the Virgin Mary’s home and tells her that she is carrying a child. They watch an evil King Herod, who plots to kill the newborn. Finally, they arrive at the manger, standing close enough to touch the crying baby Jesus.
Or try Willow Creek, for example:
The Cirque du Soleil-style production at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington features live “angels” swinging from the ceiling like acrobats, a professional violist and a mist-filled stage. The “Imagine Christmas” program is expected to draw 95,000 people this year and is broadcast on a local television station on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Perhaps I was too eager to praise Bill Hybels earlier this year. Honestly, when I read about this I wanted to [insert gross bodily function here]. I can more easily see Christ in Ty Pennington shouting “move that bus” than watching acrobatic “angels” hanging from the chandeliers.
If you were the pastor of a mega-mega-Willow-Back-Purpose-Driven-Saddle-Creek church, how would you spend the $1 million budget for Christmas this year? No question, these churches want to (1) offer a spiritually nourishing experience for the attendees, (2) increase their church’s exposure, and (3) cultivate goodwill in the community, so you’re idea would have to at least accomplish these three things.
Even with the above mentioned goals in mind, I humbly offer my own alternatives to the hollywood produced Christmas pageant.
Here’s my idea: Build ten $100,000 homes for needy families in the city while stipulating requirements and applications to determine the recipients. The goals? (1) church members are nourished spiritually by giving rather than receiving (Acts 20:35). (2) The church wouldn’t want to blow their own trumpet when helping the poor (Matthew 6:2), but these sorts of things, especially at Christmastime, have a way of getting noticed by the media without drawing the ire of the socially conscious. (3) Do I even need to explain the goodwill this would foster?
There’s my lame brained idea. You don’t have to be a genius to find a better way to drop a million and actually advance God’s kingdom.
What’s your idea? You’ve got $1 million, and an army of mega-churchers ready to follow your marching orders. How do you spend it?